COMMENT & ANALYSIS: “‘Drivers in the city are like smokers in our children’s bedrooms,’ says me on Dutch telly last night,” tweeted Dr Steven Fleming, a cycling and architect expert.
Is Fleming’s view just controversial? Or is it a fact too few people are unwilling to accept? Do we keep ignoring the dryly communicated warnings from the EPA, and warnings from obesity experts? Even when those warnings aren’t so dry, why don’t we listen more?
Fleming’s phrasing is at the extreme end, but it’s hard to complain at all about cars without being marked as an “anti-car zealots” by the AA.
Cars have their use but we use them too much is the view of many cycling campaigners and others, but this is classed simply as anti-car.
Meanwhile, the AA’s spin doctor makes bogus claims that a family of five breathing is a larger emissions problem than a new car, and that emissions from cars are overall reducing (both on the AA’s site and to the Oireachtas Transport Committee).
The AA — a car insurance company with a big conflict of interest — are given a free rein on the airwaves to complain about projects which improve the city and continue to be viewed as safety experts even after the AA made a submission to increase speed limits on city centre and residential streets in Dublin.
Why even mention the AA in this article? Their treatment on radio shows contrasts with anybody who tries to suggest excessive car isn’t good for society.
Public transport, we’re told, is rubbish and cycling is dangerous, but we’re often told this by the people arguing against improving cycling and public transport.
But did Fleming go too far? What he said is accurate, although maybe it’s too stark for a sensitive audience? But maybe — like road safety adverts or health warnings — people need to be shocked? It might not be a total solution but a part of a mix of solutions.
Playing too nicely while the likes of the AA make stuff up and get away with it hasn’t worked so far.